By Helen Albert, Senior MedWire Reporter
Only around 60% of websites provide information on infant sleep safety that is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) official recommendations, report US researchers.
They say this finding is concerning, as, of the 59% of US residents who used the internet to search for health-related information in 2010, parents searching for health information about their children were among the most frequent users.
"It is important for health care providers to realize the extent to which parents may turn to the internet for information about infant sleep safety and then act on that advice, regardless of the reliability of the source," said study author Rachel Moon (George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, DC) in a press statement.
Moon and colleagues searched for 13 key phrases relating to infant sleep safety and analyzed the first 100 websites returned for each phrase for the quality and accuracy of the information provided using the AAP official recommendations as a guide.
Out of 1300 websites assessed, 43.5% provided accurate information, 28.1% inaccurate information, and 28.4% irrelevant information. Following exclusion of the irrelevant information, 60.8% of the websites were accurate.
Of the phrases searched for, the team found that those that resulted in the most accurate results were "infant cigarette smoking," "infant sleep position," and "infant sleep surface."
By contrast, those resulting in the least accurate results were "pacifier infant," "infant home monitor," and "infant co-sleeping."
Regarding the type of website, those produced by the Government had the highest rate of accuracy, at 80.1%, and blogs the least, at 30.9%. Notably, news websites only had a 50.9% accuracy rating.
Moon and co-investigators suggest: "Providers should consider offering URLs of specific Web sites that they have identified as accurately reflecting the AAP guidelines and educating families on how to evaluate health-related Web sites for trustworthiness."
They conclude: "Finally, governments and other entities that host Web sites with infant sleep safety information should periodically review the content of the information for accuracy and currency."
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